Having a mascot/nickname that’s intimidating is essential in sports. There’s a reason why teams are never called the “librarians” or the “kittens.” And ever since Miami Football introduced the turnover chain a few years ago, we’ve seen multiple teams replicate the gimmick. But, every now and then, somebody takes it too far — like cracking an actual whip on the sidelines of a game.
(Insert whip sound)
Yes, one of the most significant pieces of slavery in human history is used by the Tampa Bay Bandits on the sidelines whenever they get a turnover.
I guess they’re… “beating their competition?”
Last Friday, Christian Sam — a Black man — grabbed the whip and gave it a crack after getting an interception against the (1-4) Michigan Panthers, as the Bandits improved to 3-2 after their 27-20 win.
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Everything about this just feels…racist. And the saddest thing about it is that the clip was tweeted from the USFL’s official account, which means the league is OK with this. But, this shouldn’t be surprising given what the USFL has been during its relaunch.
Last month, the USFL made headlines when former University of Michigan running back De’Veon Smith was cut by the Pittsburgh Maulers because he tried to order pizza when he didn’t want chicken salad. “Any disrespect of football or members of staff, USFL, etc. will not be tolerated,” Maulers coach Kirby Wilson told a documentary crew, all because Smith wanted some carbs.“ He crossed the line, so we had to deal with it... Someone’s hurt feelings are a distant second to the greater good of the team. And we’ve moved on and turned that page, and I’m happy we did it.”
And in March, the league was sued for allegedly using some of the original team names and logos from the original version of the USFL without permission.
In the same way that the NBA didn’t become cool until it implemented some of the ABA’s rules, along with their players, the same could be said about the USFL and the NFL. But, all that has changed as this league is being led by guys named Kyle Sloter and Clayton Thorson who are leading the league in passing yards, and touchdowns, respectively. And since the USFL doesn’t have any players that are making people tune in, they’ve been relegated to cracking whips on the sidelines to drum up attention. This is pathetic.